BILOXI, Miss. (WKRG) — A Pensacola man pled guilty on Monday to one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and another count of receiving stolen property after shooting at a police officer after a police chase in a stolen SUV on I-10 in Biloxi.
Willie George Byrd, 25, was sentenced to 13 years without the possibility of early parole because of his habitual offender status.
The crime happened on July 31, 2020, when a Biloxi Police Officer attempted to make a traffic stop on a stolen SUV traveling eastbound on I-10 near the Woolmarket exit.
“Once the occupants of the vehicle realized they were being followed by law enforcement, the driver of the vehicle, Ashley Hurd, accelerated to speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, and Byrd emerged from the passenger side window and fired two shots, striking the officer’s vehicle,” Assistant District Attorney Ian Baker said in a press release.
The officer returned fire and a police chase ensued, continuing through Jackson County into Mobile. The chase ended when the vehicle crashed in downtown Mobile. Both Hurd and Byrd were taken into custody shortly after the SUV crashed.
During his plea, Byrd admitted to prosecutors that he stole the SUV in Pensacola, and that he and Hurd were on a return trip to Florida from Texas in the stolen SUV when the officer tried to pull them over. Byrd also told prosecutors that after he fired at the officer, he handed the gun to Hurd to throw out of the window.
“I got scared, and panicked, and shot at the officer,” Byrd said in court.
The D.A. Attorney’s office says Byrd had two prior felony convictions from Florida for receiving stolen property and trafficking in stolen property and was prosecuted as a habitual criminal. As a habitual criminal, Byrd must serve the entire 13-year sentence day for day.
Hurd, the driver, previously plead guilty to accessory after-the-fact to aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and will be sentenced later this month.